Sat 03.03 // 3:30 PM
SF Film Society Cinema, 1748 Post St.
ON COAL RIVER
Francine Cavanaugh and Adams Wood
USA, 2011, 81 min.
Ed Wiley is a former coal miner and is emblematic of the culture of the Appalachian Region – rugged, opinionated, community-minded, and unwilling to back down in the face of steep odds. Described by Variety as a story of “Hillbilly Davids” besting a “corporate Goliath”, On Coal River follows Wiley and his allies as they wage a campaign to relocate an elementary school which his granddaughter attends that is threatened by the likelihood that a pond containing toxic coal waste will engulf it when an aging retaining wall eventually fails. It also follows the story of ex-Marine Bo Webb, who is angry over the despoliation of the valley he loves by coal companies that engage in mountain top removal. The full environmental impacts of this practice, however, are felt by people like Maria Lambert and her neighbors, who have had their drinking water contaminated as a result. Giving time to both sides of the issue, the film-makers of On Coal River do an extraordinary job of capturing the struggles of ordinary people fighting to save what remains of a valley that they and their families have called home for generations. In the process, they beautifully capture the true human and environmental costs of “cheap”, dirty energy. ~ Mark Valentine
Preceded by: The Windmill Farmer, Joaquin Baldwin, USA, 2010, 5 mins.
Co-presented with the Bay Area Video Coalition and CounterCorp Anti-Corporate Film Festival.